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Honeywell Launches New Fire Detection and Alarm System

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Honeywell has announced the launch of the Morley-IAS Max fire detection and alarm system that helps improve building and occupant safety. The compact, powerful, performance-driven intelligent fire alarm control panel offers installers and end users a technically advanced range of functions that is easy to install, commission and maintain.

The system features an advanced 7-inch touchscreen panel, providing a highly intuitive and ergonomic user interface. The panel displays colour-coded events and graphical icons. It boasts cutting-edge technologies such as multi-Boolean logic and CAN bus protocol between panels, helping enable faster communication.

In the Middle East, regional governments with the support of the private sector have been investing in infrastructure upgrades to help protect their communities, in line with ambitious plans to deploy advanced technologies to enhance assets, people and cities across the region. Illustrating this investment, the fire safety systems and equipment market across the region has risen at a compound annual growth rate of 2.69% and is expected to be worth $2.3bn (AED 8.4bn) from 2019 to 2025.

“Honeywell’s Morley-IAS Max panel helps create safer spaces for occupants, while also enabling building owners to better adhere to standard safety guidelines,” said Hakan Arkan, general manager of Commercial Fire, Honeywell Building Technologies, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “We continue to provide our customers across the region with advanced solutions designed to enhance operational efficiency and tackle potential challenges of the installation of add-on components.”

Morley-IAS Max is well suited for operation in various verticals such as commercial, education, healthcare, residential, and hospitality. Its full backward compatibility makes it well suited for retrofit projects as it supports a range of field devices, including third-party manufacturer devices. The aesthetically pleasing panel delivers high-quality design in commercial or luxury environments. The solution aims to provide information and be capable of managing complicated evacuation operations in case of an emergency.

The system incorporates serial communication ports, relays and CAN bus network to help reduce complexities typically encountered during ordering and installation. The panels offer multiple installation options in addition to standard wall mounting and flush mounting. The Morley-IAS Max panel is tested and certified in compliance with EN 54-2 and EN 54-4 standards.

GITEX

Sophos to Focus on Cybersecurity as a Service (CSaaS) at GITEX 2023

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Sophos has announced its participation at GITEX Global 2023, which runs from October 16 to October 20, 2023, at the Dubai World Trade Centre. At the event, Sophos will showcase its advanced cybersecurity solutions and services including Sophos Managed Detection and Response (MDR).

Sophos will also highlight its new Sophos Incident Response Retainer, which provides organizations with speedy access to Sophos’ industry-first fixed-cost incident response services that include 45 days of 24/7 Managed Detection and Response (MDR). The retainer cuts red tape, allowing Sophos incident responders to quickly respond to active cyberattacks to investigate and commence the remediation process. External vulnerability scanning and critical preparedness guidance are also included in the retainer, enabling organizations to proactively improve their existing security resilience by pinpointing and resolving issues that reduce the likelihood of a breach in the first place.

Additionally, the company will also focus on its complete, integrated CSaaS platform of protection. This provides a single interface into email, cloud, network, and endpoint security that is all backed by artificial intelligence, human threat analysis and open APIs that integrate with third-party tools and other cybersecurity vendors providing proactive protection and peace of mind.

“The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, and there have been significant shifts in both business environments and the methods used in cyberattacks. Organisations are better secured against cyberattacks with Sophos Managed Detection and Response (MDR) as an added layer because of the 24/7 human experts who monitor and react to indicators of intruders before they can launch a full-scale attack such as ransomware,” said Harish Chib, vice president, Middle East and Africa, Sophos. “Sophos has attended GITEX for 14 years, and being the largest technology exhibition in the region, it is an ideal platform for us to showcase our best-in-class security solutions portfolio, meet with regional customers and partners at a single venue, and strengthen our channel network.”

Adversaries are constantly modifying and evolving their toolkits and activities to stay one step ahead of cybersecurity professionals. It is challenging when it comes to targeted, active attacks that are planned and carried out by human attackers. Recently, Sophos released the Active Adversary Report for Tech Leaders 2023, which finds that it took on average less than a day—approximately 16 hours—for attackers to reach Active Directory (AD), one of the most critical assets for a company. Active Directory typically manages identity and access to resources across an organization, meaning attackers can use Active Directory to easily escalate their privileges on a system to simply log in and carry out a wide range of malicious activity.

In addition to Chib, Sophos Field CTO John Shier is attending the event to present the findings of the Active Adversary Report for Tech Leaders as well as the impact of AI on cybercrime.

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Cyber Security

42 Abu Dhabi Hosts Coding Hackathon in Collaboration with Al Hathboor Bikal.ai

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42 Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital’s innovative and disruptive coding school that provides a unique peer-to-peer, gamified learning methodology, held a hackathon titled “AI See a Solution: Computer Vision Hackathon 2023” from 13-14 September. The hackathon was held in collaboration with Al Hathboor Bikal.ai, a cutting-edge solutions provider dedicated to spearheading technological advancements for businesses and governments.

This two-day hackathon aimed to foster innovation and creativity among students by challenging them to harness the power of coding to solve real-world problems using AI. The event kicked off with a workshop on the first day, focusing on Computer Vision using Python Frameworks, Python Libraries, Open-source Models, and Datasets. Through the workshop, students gained valuable insights and skills essential for the hackathon, ensuring they are equipped to tackle the challenge ahead.

The team that won first place, including Ahmed Salem, Ghaiath Abdoush, Shatha Jadallah and Nousheen Ali, developed ‘Sawt AlRu’ya,’ an application which utilizes cutting-edge computer vision and AI technology to analyze live video streams, convert them into real-time textual descriptions, and seamlessly translate them into spoken words using a Large Language Model (LLM). By providing immediate audio feedback, ‘Sawt AlRu’ya’ empowers individuals with visual impairments to interact with their surroundings, effectively enhancing their daily lives and fostering inclusivity.

The second-place champions, including Avazbek Rashidov, Timur Mazitov, Zubaydullo Abdirakhmonov, and Nauman Munir, developed “Visulaw”, a tool which empowers users to capture photos of objects and instantly receive location-specific information about relevant fines and laws associated with those objects. This web application enhances user awareness and compliance with local regulations, fostering safer and more informed interactions with everyday objects.

Marcos Muller Habig, Acting CEO of 42 Abu Dhabi, said, “We were thrilled to host the hackathon in collaboration with Al Hathboor Bikal.ai, which served as an opportunity for our students to showcase their talents and unleash their creativity. The hackathon empowered 42 Abu Dhabi’s students to leverage their coding skills to develop advanced technologies which can drive meaningful change within the community. This cements our leading position as a talent incubator that is upskilling a new generation of coders who are equipped to accelerate the Emirate’s digital transformation and make a positive impact on society.”

Raj Sandhu, General Manager of Al Hathboor Bikal.ai, said, “We at Al Hathboor Bikal.ai are proud to collaborate with 42 Abu Dhabi in spearheading technological advancements through coding and practical sciences. AHB is pleased to be part of the very first Computer Vision hackathon in collaboration with 42 Abu Dhabi. We extend our appreciation to the participants and 42 Abu Dhabi Faculty’s unwavering support, and we look forward to future collaboration opportunities.”

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Cyber Security

Chinese Malware Appears in Earnest Across Cybercrime Threat Landscape

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Since early 2023, Proofpoint has observed an increase in the email distribution of malware associated with suspected Chinese cybercrime activity. This includes the attempted delivery of the Sainbox Remote Access Trojan (RAT) – a variant of the commodity trojan Gh0stRAT – and the newly identified ValleyRAT malware. After years of this malware not appearing in Proofpoint threat data, its appearance in multiple campaigns over the last six months is notable.

The phrase “Chinese-themed” is used to describe content related to this malicious activity, including lures, malware, targeting, and metadata that contains Chinese language usage. Campaigns are generally low-volume and are typically sent to global organizations with operations in China. The email subjects and content are usually written in Chinese and are typically related to business themes like invoices, payments, and new products. The targeted users have Chinese-language names spelled with Chinese-language characters, or specific company email addresses that appear to align with businesses’ operations in China. Although most campaigns have targeted Chinese-speaking users, Proofpoint observed one campaign targeting Japanese organizations, suggesting a potential expansion of activity.

These recently identified activity clusters have demonstrated flexible delivery methods, leveraging both simple and moderately complex techniques. Commonly, the emails contain URLs linking to compressed executables that are responsible for installing the malware. Proofpoint has also observed Sainbox RAT and ValleyRAT delivered via Excel and PDF attachments containing URLs linking to compressed executables.

Research into additional activity clusters utilizing this malware demonstrates enough variety in infrastructure, sender domains, email content, targeting, and payloads that researchers currently conclude that all use of these malware and associated campaigns are not attributable to the same cluster, but likely multiple distinct activity sets.

The emergence and uptick of both novel and older Chinese-themed malware demonstrates a new trend in the overall 2023 threat landscape. A blend of historic malware such as Sainbox – a variant of the older Gh0stRAT malware – and the newly uncovered ValleyRAT may challenge the dominance that the Russian-speaking cybercrime market has on the threat landscape. However, the Chinese-themed malware is currently mostly targeted toward users who likely speak Chinese. Proofpoint continues to monitor for evidence of increasing adoption across other languages.

With this resurgence of Chinese-themed malware, the question arises: is the impact of older malware easier to detect due to its age? Does mature detection always mean mature security? Based on Proofpoint’s analysis, the answer is not necessary, as older malware can still be effective, especially when threat actors constantly change tactics by rotating IPs, domains, encoding, and obfuscation. Consequently, even though these malware families are not new, organizations cannot afford to underestimate the risk they pose.

Proofpoint research suggests that this activity does not seem to be related to a single entity but rather appears to be a cluster of activities based on temporal patterns. The appearance of ValleyRAT alongside the older families hints at the possibility of their relationship in terms of timing. Proofpoint anticipates ValleyRAT will be used more frequently in the future.

Raising awareness in 2023 about the reappearance of these threats serves as an informational bulletin for the community. While new and sophisticated threats seemingly dominate the daily threat landscape, it is essential to maintain a balanced perspective by acknowledging seemingly less significant risks that persist. Despite being neither new nor advanced, Sainbox RAT still poses a threat in 2023, and ValleyRAT is an emerging threat in this space.

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